Cannabis users are increasing their risk of developing a heart arrhythmia by as much as 35 per cent, a study has found.
The report, published in the European Heart Journal by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, analysed data of over 23 million adults treated in a California emergency department, outpatient surgery facility or hospital from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2015.
Cannabis was among a list of banned drugs including cocaine, opiates and methamphetamine, which were found to cause an “increased incidence of atrial fibrilliation” (AF), a heart condition which can lead to strokes and heart failure.
Methamphetamine users were found to be 86 per cent more likely than the rest of the population to develop the condition, while opiate users had a 74 per cent increased risk with cocaine users reaching 61 per cent.
Although the risk for cannabis users was not the highest of the investigated drugs, the study noted: “Our findings provide the first evidence utilising a longitudinal cohort to demonstrate that cannabis use predicts the future onset of AF, specifically that cannabis use is a risk factor for AF even after adjusting for conventional risk factors.”
The authors emphasised that with “increasing prevalence of cannabis use, for both medical and recreational purposes, it is paramount to understand potential arrhythmogenic risks associated with this substance”.
Currently, 19 US states and the District of Columbia have legalised the drug for recreational use.
Last month, a group of police commissioners in England warned that cannabis is as dangerous as heroin and cocaine.
David Sidwick, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, called for cannabis to be upgraded to a Class A drug – a proposal backed by fellow commissioners for Devon and Cornwall, and Avon and Somerset.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Sidwick explained: “People who call this drug recreational haven’t seen the harm that psychosis and other cannabis-related conditions can do”.